Photo source: Flickr - Amy Selleck
Portland, Oregon, is a hip and happening city there's no doubt about that. With its food trucks, bike-friendly roads, green spaces, and wealth of breweries, Portland is now one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
But guess what? There's a lot more to Oregon than just Portland.
If you're interested in getting to know the natural side of Oregon, here are five things to see that aren't Portland.
Oregon's coast stretches for 363 miles that's a lot of potential for exploring. You can climb sand dunes, play in tidal pools, hike up cliffs and even watch for whales. You can take a stroll along Cannon Beach, or watch the waves crash into Thor's Well at Cape Perpetua (you know, that round hole in the rock that water pours into, looking like some wild whirlpool from a Hollywood blockbuster). This coast is often described as being wild so be prepared for anything.
Interested in water-related activities away from the coast? Then be sure to visit Crater Lake National Park and the huge caldera lake that the park was named for. Crater Lake was formed when a volcano collapsed thousands of years ago, and is the deepest lake in America at more than 2,000 feet. Hike down to the water, drive the Rim Drive on the southern side of the caldera or take a boat trip out to Wizard Island in the middle of the lake.
The Painted Hills are located in Mitchell, Oregon, past a ghost town and within John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The hills are named for their colorful layers, which were formed over different geological eras. Travel Oregon recommends visiting the Painted Hills in the late afternoon, when the colors are often at their best.
The Columbia River Gorge could be on this list itself, but I wanted to focus on one of its more famous waterfalls: Multnomah Falls. Located just a 30-minute drive from Portland, this 611-foot-tall waterfall cascades down in tiers. It's accessible from the highway, and you can get an even closer look by following a paved trail to Benson Bridge, which spans the falls at the base of the waterfall's first tier.
Smith Rock can be found in central Oregon in a state park not far from the town of Bend. Its towers of hardened volcanic ash have become a mecca for rock climbers, and the area around Smith Rock is also full of activities for the adventurous like mountain biking, hiking, caving and more.
The next time you think of Oregon and only think of Portland, think again there's much more to see.
Which of these natural wonders would YOU most like to see in Oregon?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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